May 14, 2009

Is Our Children Learning?

You can never start too soon:
IMPERIAL, Calif. — Ten minutes into arrant mayhem in this town near the Mexican border, and the gunman, a disgruntled Iraq war veteran, has already taken out two people, one slumped in his desk, the other covered in blood on the floor.

The responding officers — eight teenage boys and girls, the youngest 14 — face tripwire, a thin cloud of poisonous gas and loud shots — BAM! BAM! — fired from behind a flimsy wall. They move quickly, pellet guns drawn and masks affixed.

"United States Border Patrol! Put your hands up!" screams one in a voice cracking with adolescent determination as the suspect is subdued.
A paramilitary group training its young? A fundamentalist religious sect teaching necessary life skills to its children?

Not at all (although I suppose one's characterization might vary), as detailed in this New York Times story:
The Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years ago, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence — an intense ratcheting up of one of the group’s longtime missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters.

"This is about being a true-blooded American guy and girl," said A. J. Lowenthal, a sheriff’s deputy here in Imperial County, whose life clock, he says, is set around the Explorers events he helps run. "It fits right in with the honor and bravery of the Boy Scouts."
Certain of the targets of this training are noteworthy. There is, as mentioned above, "illegal" immigration -- a concept riddled with contradictions and inconsistencies, and one which, as almost always used today, is rooted in the most disgusting racism, all of which I've discussed in, "The Triumph of Racism." Please note, as discussed in that article, that racism in this form is not restricted to only one part of the political spectrum; well-known liberals frequently engage in this vile behavior, along with conservatives.

Another target, and another non-crime "crime," is provided by that all-purpose figure of nightmare: the Evil People Who Use ... dah da-dah! ... Drugs!
The training, which leaders say is not intended to be applied outside the simulated Explorer setting, can involve chasing down illegal border crossers as well as more dangerous situations that include facing down terrorists and taking out “active shooters,” like those who bring gunfire and death to college campuses. In a simulation here of a raid on a marijuana field, several Explorers were instructed on how to quiet an obstreperous lookout.

"Put him on his face and put a knee in his back," a Border Patrol agent explained. "I guarantee that he’ll shut up."


[T] he more than 2,000 law enforcement posts across the country are the Explorers’ most popular, accounting for 35,000 of the group’s 145,000 members, said John Anthony, national director of Learning for Life. Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many posts have taken on an emphasis of fighting terrorism and other less conventional threats.

"Before it was more about the basics," said Johnny Longoria, a Border Patrol agent here. "But now our emphasis is on terrorism, illegal entry, drugs and human smuggling."


Just as there are soccer moms, there are Explorers dads, who attend the competitions, man the hamburger grill and donate their land for the simulated marijuana field raids.
I had a few words about the disgusting, unjustified and unjustifiable, immensely destructive "War on Drugs" recently, here.

Here's another lovely racist touch:
In a competition in Arizona that he did not oversee, Deputy Lowenthal said, one role-player wore traditional Arab dress. "If we’re looking at 9/11 and what a Middle Eastern terrorist would be like," he said, "then maybe your role-player would look like that. I don’t know, would you call that politically incorrect?"
No, I'd call it what I already called it: racist.

I pass along without comment one of the problems that appears to be not uncommon among the adult leadership of these groups: "the Explorers have faced problems over the years. There have been numerous cases over the last three decades in which police officers supervising Explorers have been charged, in civil and criminal cases, with sexually abusing them." Don't worry: "Adult Explorer leaders are now required to take an online training program on sexual misconduct." I'm sure that will address all potential problems. Righty-o.

One other aspect of the Times story is worth noting. As the U.S. economy continues its collapse (which most signs indicate is very, very far from over and very far from the bottom it will ultimately reach), job security will be found in fewer and fewer areas. But government will grow as the employer of first, last and every resort, and probably by a very large factor. As part of that growth of government, law enforcement will also increase its numbers:
Authenticity seems to be the goal. [Who writes this swill? Never mind.] Imperial County, in Southern California, is the poorest in the state, and the local economy revolves largely around the criminal justice system. In addition to the sheriff and local police departments, there are two state prisons and a large Border Patrol and immigration enforcement presence.

"My uncle was a sheriff’s deputy," said Alexandra Sanchez, 17, who joined the Explorers when she was 13. Alexandra’s police uniform was baggy on her lithe frame, her airsoft gun slung carefully to the side. She wants to be a coroner.

"I like the idea of having law enforcement work with medicine," she said. "This is a great program for me."

And then she was off to another bus hijacking.
A would-be coroner, who "like[s] the idea of having law enforcement work with medicine." Charming. Nothing like making certain that future law enforcement personnel will provide an endless supply of bodies for the local morgue. Talk about job security! This is one fucking great country.

I'll add this post to my growing list of entries concerning the superlative, life-enhancing lessons taught to America's children by our compassionate, nurturing culture. Here are some earlier essays in the series:

Let The Victims Speak

Bullied, Terrorized and Targeted for Destruction: Our Children Have Learned Well

Careful the Things You Do: Wishes Come True, Not Free

When Awareness Is a Crime, and Other Lessons from Morton West

And, of course, the first four installments of my tribalism series.

One more notable touch from the Times story:
Cathy Noriego, also 16, said she was attracted by the guns. The group uses compressed-air guns — known as airsoft guns, which fire tiny plastic pellets — in the training exercises, and sometimes they shoot real guns on a closed range.

"I like shooting them," Cathy said. "I like the sound they make. It gets me excited."
One fucking great country.